Global Studies (GLST) 208

The World to 1500 (Revision 1)

GLST 208 course cover

Delivery Mode: Individualized study online

Credits: 3

Area of Study: Humanities

Prerequisite: None.

Precluded Course: GLST 208 is a cross-listed course—a course listed under two different disciplines—HIST 208. GLST 208 may not be taken for credit by students who have obtained credit for GLST 208.

Faculty: Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences

Global Studies home page

GLST 208 has a Challenge for Credit option.

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The World to 1500 is a three-credit first-year (junior) course that introduces students to the study of Global History. The course was written by historian Dr. Marc B. Cels. It surveys the early human past, from its spread around the world during the last Ice Age, through the rise of early and classical civilizations and the growing communication in the post-classical period, up to the chance connection of global networks by European explorers at the start of the modern age. While it features cultures that will be familiar to many students, such the Egyptians, Maya, Romans, Tang Chinese, and Mongols, the course will also consider societies that flourished without empires or even states, including the Aboriginal Australians, Ancestral Puebloans, and Bantu-speaking peoples. Comparing the different cultures of the past helps students to make sense of this long period of history and to identify patterns of change and continuity. Many of the cultures that developed before 1500 continue to influence us and shape events today. In particular, the course traces the spreading connections that led to our globalized world. Students are introduced to the types of readings and assignments typical of History courses. The course prepares students to take more courses in History, other fields in the Humanities area, or Global Studies.


  • Unit 1: Introduction
  • Unit 2: Prehistory to the Beginning of Agriculture
  • Unit 3: The First Civilizations
  • Unit 4: The Classical Empires of Eurasia and North Africa, c. 500 B.C.E. to c. 500 C.E.
  • Unit 5: Classical Culture in Eurasia and North Africa
  • Unit 6: Classical Society in Eurasia and North Africa
  • Unit 7: The Age of Secondary Civilizations in the Americas, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Pacific Islands
  • Unit 8: Post-Classical Trade Networks
  • Unit 9: Post-Classical China and East Asia, c. 600 to c. 1300
  • Unit 10: Islam: An Afro-Eurasian Civilization
  • Unit 11: Medieval Europe, c. 500 to 1450
  • Unit 12: The Mongol Hegemony in Eurasia
  • Unit 13: The World at the End of the Post-Classical Age

Learning Outcomes

  1. Recall a narrative of human history to 1500 from assigned readings and videos.
  2. Apply strategies for taking notes and analyzing information from assigned materials.
  3. Select, order, and document course information in response to assigned essay questions.
  4. Summarize the development of major world cultures and selected alternative cultures.
  5. Compose essays according to academic standards using assigned resources.


To receive credit for GLST 208, you must achieve a minimum of 50 per cent on the final examination and a minimum composite course grade of D (50 percent).

Activity Weighting
10 Multiple choice unit quizzes (open book) 10% (1% each)
3 Multiple choice skills module quizzes (open book) 6% (2% each)
Assignment 1: Short Comparison Essay (1,000 words) 10%
Assignment 2: Mid-Course Short Essay (1,500 words) 15%
Assignment 3: Long Comparison Essay (2,000 words) 29%
Invigilated Final Exam (2.5 hours) 30%
Total 100%

The final examination for this course must be taken online with an AU-approved exam invigilator at an approved invigilation centre. It is your responsibility to ensure your chosen invigilation centre can accommodate online exams. For a list of invigilators who can accommodate online exams, visit the Exam Invigilation Network.

To learn more about assignments and examinations, please refer to Athabasca University's online Calendar.

Course Materials


Robert W. Strayer and Eric W. Nelson. Ways of the World: A Brief Global History with Sources, Volume 1. 4/ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2019. [ISBN: ISBN-13: 9781319109752]

Other Materials

Online Study Guide (13 Units)

Online readings and streaming videos available through AU Library.

Challenge for Credit Overview

The Challenge for Credit process allows you to demonstrate that you have acquired a command of the general subject matter, knowledge, intellectual and/or other skills that would normally be found in a university-level course.

Full information about Challenge for Credit can be found in the Undergraduate Calendar.

Challenge Evaluation

Activity Weighting Description
Long comparison essay 40% In consultation with the Course Coordinator, the student will write an essay comparing two post-classical civilizations using materials authorized by the Course Coordinator.
Exam 1 30% Three-hour invigilated exam testing student’s knowledge of course concepts, events, people, and themes. This exam consists of briefly explaining 10 out of 15 major concepts from the first half of the course (Units 2–7) and answering two out of six essay questions related to the first half of the course.
Exam 2 30% Three-hour invigilated exam testing student’s knowledge of course concepts, events, people, and themes. This exam consists of briefly explaining 10 out of 15 major concepts from the second half of the course (Units 8–13), and answering two out of six essay questions related to the second half of the course.
Total 100%  

Undergraduate Challenge for Credit Course Registration Form

Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice. Courses offered by other delivery methods may vary from their individualized-study counterparts.

Opened in Revision 1, October 14, 2020.